Summary of passage: Jesus lists 7 woes to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. He says they do not let those enter who are trying to enter the kingdom of heaven. They corrupt converts. They put gold and gifts above the temple itself; instead of swearing upon God, they swear upon material goods. They tithe and do the little things but ignore the important matters such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
They have clean outward appearances but inside their souls are dirty. On the outside they appear righteous but on the inside they are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. They say they are better than their forefathers and wouldn’t have persecuted the prophets when Jesus says otherwise. Jesus says he will send prophets and wise men to cleanse them but they will be killed and crucified.
11) Woes: 1) The Pharisees do not let those enter who are trying to enter the kingdom of God (verse 13). Positive application: Invite others to know God.
2) They devour (stole) widows’ houses and make showy lengthy prayers (verse 14). Positive application: Help widows, do not take advantage of those less capable than yourself or more vulnerable, and pray with a God heart.
3) They corrupt converts (verse 15). Personal application: Do not do anything to allow others to fall.
4) They put gold and gifts above the temple itself; instead of swearing upon God, they swear upon material goods (verses 16-22). Personal application: Remember God gives all and is greater than the physical structure of the church or any material gifts given to you. Remember the source.
5) They fixate on trivial matters and ignore the more important issues of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (verses 23-24). Personal application: Don’t nit-pick. What matters to God is the heart and how you treat others.
6) They focus on cleaning up their outside image instead of cleaning the inside soul (verses 25-26). Personal application: Your heart matters more than outward appearances. Your heart must be right for your actions to be right.
7) On the outside they appear righteous but on the inside they are hypocrites and wicked (verses 27-28). Personal application: God knows your heart. You must be genuine and not pretend to be righteous. Be transformed from the inside out.
8) They say they are better than their forefathers and wouldn’t have persecuted the prophets when Jesus says otherwise. Jesus says he will send prophets and wise men to cleanse them but they will be killed and crucified (verses 29-39). Personal application: We are no better than anyone, not even murderers. We are all sinners. We are only cleansed by Jesus’ blood. Be humble and loving.
12a) Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law still about the disciples, Stephen, the early Christians, and us as well.
b) Jesus’ death.
c) Personal Question. My answer: We are all murderers and deserve death but Jesus’ love saves us and makes us righteous and whole once again.
d) We will not see Jesus again until either our physical death or the Second Coming.
Conclusions: Jesus saves, undeservingly, no matter how Godly we think we are, we actually are, or we pretend to be. I’m burnt out to be honest (see post HERE). That’s all I got.
End Notes: Jesus echoes the Old Testament prophets here in terms of warnings and condemnations. They kept people from Jesus with all of the human prohibitions they placed for others.
Verse 14 that is omitted in some Bibles or is placed in a footnote (like mine) should belong here based on the fact it appears in Mark and Luke’s re-telling of this scene. Thus, it would be 8 woes instead of 7.
Stealing houses from widows results in greater condemnation. There are indeed varying degrees of punishment in God’s kingdom.
It does no good to convert people and then lead them down the wrong path.
Since the Pharisees were not allowed to swear by God himself (Exodus 20:7), they swore by other things but they had corrupted this practice to the point their oaths were meaningless. It didn’t matter what you swore by but it was binding. Every one.
Our altar is Jesus and his work is the cross.
To be righteous, start with the inside. Then the outside will follow.
It was custom before Passover for the Jews to whitewash tombs so that if you touched it, you wouldn’t become ceremonially unclean. Hence, the Pharisees were nice to behold on the outside but dead on the inside.
Paul uses this same analogy in Acts 23:3 against the high priest Ananias of the Sanhedrin: “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
They honor dead prophets but then will in the end murder a living one. Spurgeon calls verse 32, “One of the most terrible sentences that ever fell from Christ’s lips.”
Jesus lists all the righteous martyr’s of the Old Testament.
The image of a hen protecting its chicks is used in the Old Testament for God’s protection of his people (Psalm 17:8; 91:4; Isaiah 31:5).
Scholars say Jesus’ words here “how often I have longed” indicate Jesus visited Jerusalem multiple times before his Triumphal entry. John indicates this as well.
Jesus constantly wants to save. It is man who rejects.
Jesus spoke so harshly to these men out of love. His heart broke for them as it does for us when we sin. He truly wanted them to repent before it was too late. Does God ever speak to you so?
Fun Fact: Jesus wept only twice that is recorded in the Bible. Once, over the fate of Jerusalem and second at the tomb of Lazarus. Both were over the sorrow of death.